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142          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

daughter-in-law, therefore, has more severe obligations toward
her parents than toward her husband. A poem of the T'ang
Dynasty by Wang Chien recorded a sympathetic sentiment
for the "New Bride":

On the third day, washing her hands,

She goes to make a soup of special savour.

She knows not how the parents like it,

And makes her husband's sister taste its flavour.

For a woman to please a man is a noble effort, but for her to
please another woman is heroic, and many of them fail. The
son, torn between loyalty to parents and love for his wife,
never quite dares stand up for her. Practically all tales of
cruelty to women could be traced to an oppressor of the same
sex. But then, the daughter-in-law bides her time to be mother-
in-law in turn. If she does arrive at that much-desired old age,
it is truly a position of honour and power, well earned by a
life of service.


The seclusion of women has, however, a very definite in-
fluence over our ideal of beauty, our ideal of womanhood, the
education of our daughters, and the forms of love and court-
ship in China.

The Chinese and the Western conceptions of the feminine
differ. While both conceptions envelop the feminine with a
sense of charm and mystery, yet the point of view is essentially
different. This is clearest in the field of art. While in Western
art the feminine body is taken as the source of inspiration and
the highest perfection of pure rhythm, in Chinese art the
feminine body itself borrows its beauty from the rhythms of
nature. To a Chinese, nothing is more striking than that the
statue of a woman should be placed high up in the harbour of
New York, to be looked at by all people coming into the
country. The idea of feminine exposure is indecorous to the
extreme. And when he learns that the woman there does not